An aerial view of Polar Peak at Fernie Alpine Resort. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Hiker recalls B.C. ski resort rescue

Nursing significant injuries, the woman clung to rocks for half an hour while waiting to be rescued.

A hiker has recalled the terrifying moment her friend slipped and fell 30 metres from the highest peak at a B.C. ski resort on Sunday.

Fernie resident Elly Fleming believes the 27-year-old woman, who did not wish to be identified, is lucky to have survived the ordeal with only cuts and bruises after coming within a metre of a sheer drop off into the valley below.

The New Zealand nationals were among a group of nine friends who visited Fernie Alpine Resort on Summer Community Appreciation Day to tackle Polar Peak Trail, an advanced hike that reaches an elevation of 2100 metres.

The group had stopped for lunch at the summit and the woman had walked with two men further along the ridge above Richard’s Run when the incident happened about 1:15 p.m.

“She was standing there and the gravel below her just slipped out and she just lost her footing,” said Fleming.

The woman slid 30 metres down the mountain on her stomach before managing to grab onto rocks and prevent herself from falling any further.

“Our friend saw her first and kind of called out in alarm, and we all turned around and saw her sliding,” said Fleming.

“She disappeared from view for a bit then we got sight of her and she was clinging onto the rocks. She was conscious and breathing, but yeah, pretty scary.”

Two members of the group called emergency services, which tasked Fernie Search and Rescue to conduct a long line helicopter rescue.

The hikers could only watch in horror as the woman clung to rocks while they waited for rescue personnel to arrive.

“No one could really do much because it was so steep that if they went to go help her they might have fallen off as well,” said Fleming.

“The poor thing had to sit for ages by herself because no one could get to her until we had the right equipment.

“We just called out to keep encouraging her, just trying to keep her spirits up and keep her holding on. It’s just lucky she wasn’t really badly injured I guess, because she had to stay quite still on the rock and not slip down any further.”

By pure coincidence, a highly experienced and qualified ski and mountain guide was also hiking in the area.

He was able to use abseiling equipment from the Polar Peak hut to rappel down to the injured woman and bring her back up to the summit, with the help of members of Fleming’s group.

Fernie SAR arrived on scene just after 2 p.m. and airlifted the woman to the ski hill base, where BC Ambulance Service was waiting.

She was taken to Elk Valley Hospital and treated for significant abrasions and contusions to the front of her body.

“Some of her finger pads have gone, her hands are really cut up and her ankle is pretty sore but nothing broken, thank goodness,” said Fleming on Monday.

“She’s really cut up and obviously really tender… the whole thing was pretty traumatic because it could have been a lot worse than it was, so she’s lucky.”

Fernie SAR Manager Rob Lanthier agreed.

“It is very important to note that the rescue by the fellow hiker was not just a casual passerby, but a highly experienced and qualified ski and mountain guide who happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” he said in a Facebook post on Monday.

“Fernie SAR, and I am sure the injured woman, are highly thankful to have so many talented and experienced Fernie residents who are able to help out in such a situation.”

It was the woman’s first time summitting Polar Peak but she was an experienced hiker, according to friends.

The group has thanked all those involved in the rescue, saying they remained “calm and professional” throughout.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Campbell River nurse looks to grace the cover of Inked magazine

‘I’m at the point in my life where I don’t care what anybody thinks anymore. I’m just going to be me.’

Witnesses assist Campbell River woman in danger

The Campbell River RCMP were called to a report of violence in… Continue reading

Reports of accused human trafficker sighted in Campbell River unsubstantiated

RCMP issue warning about the fears unproven social media reports can generate

City of Campbell River rolls out three year strategic plan

Plan is made up of six ‘pillars’ for how council will make decisions

City of Campbell River highlights benefits of fitness programs for ‘older adults’

New video features participants telling their own stories of how classes improved their lives

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read